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Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's representative on EU ties (ITAR-TASS)
May 16, 2007 -- The Kremlin's top adviser on relations with the European Union says reports of a crisis between Moscow and Brussels are "seriously exaggerated."
Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a top aide to President Vladimir Putin, acknowledged that there are problems between Russia and the European Union, but said they do not constitute a crisis.
"Reports of a crisis in relations between Russia and the European Union are more than exaggerated. I think, on the whole, Russian-EU relations are developing quite well," Yastrzhembsky said at a news conference in Moscow on May 16.
In recent months, Russian-EU relations have been damaged by a series of disputes. Bloc member Poland says it will veto an EU partnership agreement with Russia unless Moscow lifts a ban on Polish meat imports. Relations between Russia and EU member Estonia have deteriorated over the removal of a Soviet-era World War II monument from central Tallinn.
Yastrzhembsky says the problems between Moscow and Brussels are "natural in relations between global players."
Yastrzhembsky made his comments a day after a May 15 meeting between Putin and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency.
The Steinmeier-Putin meeting was an attempt to ease tensions prior to an EU-Russia summit scheduled for May 18 in the southern Russian city of Samara.